Glen Morgan approached Mary Elizabeth Winstead about the movie at 4 AM in the airport after finishing Final Destination 3 (2006) with her. After being hesitant at first after only just finishing a horror movie, she agreed to the role of "Heather" because she is a fan of the 1974 version.
Andrea Martin, who played Phyllis in Black Christmas (1974), said in an interview that she hadn't thought about "Black Christmas" for 32 years and it "came out of the blue" when Glen Morgan offered her the role as the house mother in the movie.
Glen Morgan didn't specifically have any male actors considered for the role of Kyle in the movie. Instead, during auditions, his 14-year-old daughter (stepdaughter of Glen's actress wife Kristen Cloke, who also has a role in the movie), picked out Oliver Hudson shouting out "That one!"
After the box office failure of Willard (2003), Glen Morgan stated that if this film were to bomb it would be the end of his directing career. This film would be a critical and financial failure (grossing only $21 million against a $9 million budget and receiving an abysmal 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) unfortunately proving his fears correct because, as of 2016, he has yet to direct another film.
During one scene the famous "leg lamp" from A Christmas Story (1983) can be seen in the background. This may be a reference to Bob Clark, the director of the original Black Christmas. He also directed A Christmas Story in 1983.
After this film's critical and financial failure Bob Clark began work on a straight up sequel to the original film with Clark as director and Olivia Hussey and John Saxon reprising their roles of Jess and Lt. Ken Fuller respectively with Jess being the new house mother of the sorority house. His untimely passing however prevented this idea from ever coming to fruition.
Glen Morgan was good friends with Bob Clark who directed the original Black Christmas (1974). He received his blessing to direct this film and remained on set as executive producer. Clark managed to watch the remake before he passed away.
Out of all the actresses in the film, Lacey Chabert is the only one out of all the others in the film that was not involved with the horror genre, whether it be a movie or TV series, prior to this film.
One of the few mainstream films to feature a male body double for a female actress. Lauren Hannon spends a portion of the film passed out drunk in bed and for the day Crystal Lowe was not on set a male double was used for her legs hanging off the bed. The double not only had smooth and feminine looking legs, he also had the matching skin tone.
The flashback sequences with Billy's family were filmed first and the present day scenes with the sorority sisters were filmed next so as to have a dilapidated house be easily decorated with Christmas ornaments instead of having to do the whole process back and forth.
Kristin Cavallari turned down the role of "Kelli" while Camilla Belle and Amber Tamblyn turned down the role of "Heather" due to scheduling conflicts. Belle was working on When a Stranger Calls (2006) while Tamblyn was committed to The Grudge 2 (2006). Katie Cassidy also co-stars with Camilla Belle in When a Stranger Calls.
Most of the sorority sisters in the film were named after famous singers who made memorable Christmas songs: Kelli Presley - Elvis Presley, Melissa Kitt - Eartha Kitt, Dana Mathis - Johnny Mathis, Clair Crosby - Bing Crosby, Leigh Crosby Colvin - Shawn Colvin, Megan Helms - Bobby Helms, Heather Lee Fitzgerald gets two names: Brenda Lee and Ella Fitzgerald. Lauren Hannon and Eve Agnew appear to be the only sorority sisters who were not named after singers. Barbara MacHenry doesn't count because she is named after a character from the original film.
In the original film, the house mother was simply named Mrs. MacHenry and had no given first name. In this film she is given the full name of Barbara MacHenry, an homage to the character of Barbara Coard in the original film, who was played by Margot Kidder.
In the beginning of the film Ms. Mac asks who is not present for the secret Santa gift exchange. Two of the names mentioned are Chelsea and Greer. Chelsea is the name of Glen Morgan's daughter from his marriage to Cindy Morgan who is also Kristen Cloke's stepdaughter. Greer is the name of Kristen Cloke and Glen Morgan's youngest child.
The film caused an uproar of controversy from Christian groups because of the studio's decision to release the film on Christmas Day. Several groups, including Liberty Counsel and Operation "Just Say Merry Christmas", called the film "offensive, ill-founded and insensitive". L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke also questioned the filmmakers' decision to release the film on Christmas. Dimension Films defended the timing, saying, "There is a long tradition of releasing horror movies during the holiday season as counter-programing to the more regular yuletide fare." Film historian Michael Gurnow, of The Horror Review, countered Liberty Counsel's complaint, writing, "such crimes occur throughout the year, including Christmas (as recently as a year prior--in McLean and Great Falls, Virginia to be exact)."
Kristen Cloke also was featured on a "Final Destination" film. This would make her the fourth actor from that franchise to appear in this film. The other three would be Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Crystal Lowe, and Jody Racicot, all of whom star in "Final Destination 3" as the lead, the other in the tanning bed scenes, and the other as a minor character. Kristen appears in the original as the teacher.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Lacey Chabert injured her leg on the first day of shooting while filming the crawlspace sequence where Agnes kills her character. The actress flew back to Los Angeles to see a doctor, and coincidentally enough, the doctor who treated her was the stepfather of her co-star, Katie Cassidy.
Reportedly, at the request of Dimension Films, certain scenes in the trailer and TV spots never appear in the film and were shot solely for advertising purposes. This footage includes a young girl finding another girl (neither of whom were in the movie) trapped underneath a frozen pond, this same girl falling off the roof tangled in christmas lights, an alternate death where Dana (Lacey Chabert) gets tangled in Christmas lights and sucked into a thresher, a short scene of Melissa screaming at someone, in a TV spot Melissa (Michelle Trachtenberg) is seen cocking a shotgun at a peephole in the front door saying "Merry fucking Christmas", and Melissa walking down a hall where Billy can be seen crawling across the ceiling with a hatchet. Bits and pieces of Melissa's UK version of her death are also seen in the trailer. There was also a line that didn't make it into the film, where during the first scary phone call from Billy and Agnes, Billy says "All is calm, all is bright. Who is in my house tonight?".
Melissa's original death was Agnes placing a bag over her head and ripping her eye out and dragging her down the hall by her eye socket as she screams helplessly, Dimension Films reportedly forced Glen Morgan to film this scene. Morgan decided to re-shoot her death, as the previous one wasn't creative enough, to escaping the bag and being chased into her room and having part of her head sliced off by an ice skate as she attempts to escape from a window. This was filmed behind the studio's back. The eye death became the UK Version death, while the ice skate death was the US Version death.
In the original screenplay, the tone was much more serious, and Leigh lived in the end along with Melissa who only died because Michelle Trachtenberg would not do the film unless her character died. Also, Billy had died in the mental asylum while Agnes was the main antagonist. The original ending ended as Kelli and Leigh killing Agnes, and being rushed to the hospital. Melissa was also intended to be Asian before Trachtenberg was cast.
It is well known that certain shots in the trailer were filmed solely for advertising purposes, no trace of certain pieces of this footage appear in the film or deleted scenes. These scenes were filmed behind Glen Morgan's back and was informed by Mary Elizabeth Winstead over the phone about this. They were both quite angry about hearing this.
Glen Morgan has reportedly disowned this film. In response to the question on wether or not he was happy with the results, Morgan said "No way, and it's schizophrenic because Bob Weinstein came in and urinated on it. Really, there was a time where torture porn was the hot thing. You know I became friends with Bob Clark. You can throw that movie into one of your first questions. I loved that movie, and also Christmas Story and I learned a lot from Bob, and had his blessing that we were trying to make a version that he didn't get to deal with the background of the killers, and stuff like that. When Bob Weinstein came in and saw that, he was like, "We need to drag Michele Trachtenberg down the hall by her eyes." And I was like, "Oh, Lord," and I talked to my agent and lawyer, and Kristen about it. It was humiliating, it was horrible. I stayed to try and protect the cast and crew, friends of mine, and ended up taking it on the chin".
When approached for a role in the film, Mary Elizabeth Winstead was initially offered the final girl Kelli Pressley but insisted on taking the role of victim Heather Fitzgerald to avoid being typecast.
For the infamous false advertisement footage in the theatrical trailer and TV spots, Bob Weinstein of The Weinstein Company hired up-and-coming actress Jillian Murray to film some of the promotional material. She is the girl who wipes snow off of the frozen pond to encounter the girl who then breaks through the ice and the girl who falls off the roof tangled in christmas lights.
There were three alternate endings shot for the film. The first ending had Leigh and Kelli engage in a heartwarming talk with Leigh opening Clair's present. The ending concluded with Kelli getting a call from Kyle's phone implying either Agnes or Billy survived. The second ending had Leigh being brought to the morgue to examine Agnes' body only to find Clair's body revealing that Agnes escaped while Billy dies from his burns, the ending concludes with Leigh being killed by Agnes, and Kelli electrocuting Agnes and being picked up by her parents. This ending was used in the UK version. The third ending had the morticians discovering Billy's body is missing while a shot inside a smoke detector on the wall reveals that Billy escaped.
Body count: 18. Clair Crosby, Security Guard, Asylum Santa, Megan Helms, Billy's dad, Billy's stepfather, Billy's mom, Eve Agnew, Dana Mathis, Heather Lee-Fitzgerald, Barbara MacHenry, Melissa Kitt, Lauren Hannon, Kyle Autry, Morgue Attendant, Leigh Colvin, Agnes Lenz, Billy Lenz. Not counting the killers themselves, Ms. Mac and Billy's biological father are the only characters in the film that were not killed by either Billy or Agnes and instead Ms. Mac dies by a freak accident while Billy's mom and stepfather kill his biological father.
Despite the unrealistic nature of Ms. Mac's death with an icicle piercing her eye and popping out of the back of her head, this is actually medically accurate. According to producer James Wong, a likely story is that Ms. Mac played ice hockey in 1962 and was struck in that particular area, had a headache for a few days and recovered without having it checked out allowing the area to soften and become a weak point for the icicle to pierce. It is also worth noting that icicles have been known to kill people just by falling on them.
Dana Mathis foreshadows her own death in the fireplace scene with all the others girls with this quote: "I'd like to bury the hatchet with my sister...right in her head". Dana would end up being dragged underneath the crawlspace and killed with a gardening rake stabbed in her head.
When the actresses would wear the makeup around their eyes to portray eyeless corpses, they would stick cotton swabs in the area to collect tears that would build up as the result of irritation from the makeup.
Dean Friss, the camera operator, was originally cast as killer Billy Lenz despite having no prior acting experience. He was then cast as second killer Agnes when the character was written into the script. The two characters were to be interchangeable so as to confuse the audience during the film. Friss had trouble trying to create a female voice for the character until he realized that young Agnes and Billy's mother had husky voices so he blended a variation of their voices.
Dana's tears during her death scene in the crawlspace were real as Lacey Chabert's eyes were often covered in dirt from filming in the area causing irritation, humorously, when Chabert would sneeze during the filming her snot would be muddy from dirt from the crawlspace.
Oliver Hudson who portrays Kyle Autry in the film would go on to star prominently as Wes Gardener in the Ryan Murphy hit comedy slasher horror series Scream Queens (2015), in which a concealed killer primarily murdering sorority sisters shares a sordid childhood history relating to the sorority and in which there are indeed two killers who are brother and sister. In this film there are also two killers who are a brother and sister duo primarily killing sorority sisters and whom have a sordid childhood history pertaining to the sorority in question.
Lauren Hannon's original death scene involved Agnes sneaking into her room and gouging her eyes out with the glass unicorn in an homage to the original where Barbara Coard was stabbed to death with a glass unicorn by Billy. Her death scene is completely absent from the theatrical cut where her corpse is merely found by Kelli, Leigh, and Kyle. It was restored for the unrated version.
Heather Lee-Fitzgerald and Eve Agnew are the only sorority sisters in the film that were not murdered by Agnes, they were instead murdered by Billy. In the unrated version, it is seen that Lauren Hannon was killed by Agnes who gouged her eyes out with the glass unicorn, her eyeless corpse was merely found by Kelli and Leigh in the theatrical cut.
While filming her scenes with Billy and Agnes cornering her in between the walls of the house where they fell in, Kelli begins to furiously knock on the walls for help. Katie Cassidy had to bang and punch the walls so much she accidentally cut and bruised her knuckles.
The character of Agnes Lenz is supposed to have an intentional androgynous appearance. While her physical build and face are masculine, her lips, nose, and eyes are feminine. This was to add to the ambiguity of the character.
Ms. Mac is killed when a falling icicle impales her head. This may be another reference to Bob Clark, director of the original "Black Christmas". In his movie "A Christmas Story", the lead character is warned by his mother that "those icicles have been known to kill people!"